A Moment of Science

Which Is Healthier: Standing Or Sitting

There's mounting evidence that long stretches of inactivity are not good for you, even if you're not overweight and seem basically healthy.

two prairie dogs sit on a rock

Photo: yischon (Flickr)

These prairie dogs should get some exercise!

When you’re sitting, you’re essentially inactive, right? And there’s mounting evidence that long stretches of inactivity are not good for you, even if you’re not overweight and seem basically healthy.

Metabolizing Food

For example, in one experiment, researchers had healthy subjects spend an entire day sitting, then measured how well their bodies metabolized food and made insulin to regulate blood sugar.

The next day the subjects were allowed to get up and move around, but without doing any strenuous or even moderate exercise. And again, the researchers took the same measurements.

So What Did They Find?

That’s the amazing thing. After just one day of sitting, the participants’ metabolism was starting to go haywire.

They didn’t literally become diabetic, but their bodies showed signs of struggling to produce insulin a hormone needed to draw sugar from blood into bodily tissues.

And When They Were Standing?

No problems with insulin. Now, one experiment doesn’t prove anything. But other studies have found similar evidence that prolonged inactivity may contribute to diseases like diabetes.

And they’ve found that being even mildly active, like puttering around the house or walking at a leisurely pace, could have large health benefits.

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